Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Humanities/2011 October 5

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October 5[edit]

Who has the lowest net worth in America? In the world?[edit]

Who has the lowest net worth in America? In the world? I realize definitive answers won't be possible. --NilsTycho (talk) 02:29, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Edit: For clarification, I am thinking of individuals with a negative net worth. Bernie Madoff is a good guess, as suggested below, but I can't find his current net worth. --NilsTycho (talk) 00:34, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

A naked homeless person would be your answer for the US. I would imagine quite a few people in so-called Fourth World countries have the same low net worth. Other than these I can't imagine what answer you are looking for. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 02:32, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
(ec) If negative one million dollars is "lower" than negative five hundred thousand dollars, then I expect it's someone quite well off. Very hard to accumulate large negative net worth unless you're rich. --Trovatore (talk) 02:33, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
The working class. →Στc. 02:34, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I can't see how the working class would have a lower net worth then the non-working class... Besides, working class is a loaded term. Doctors work, and are well compensated for it, but are not considered working class. Does that make them part of the parasite stomping on the head of the common comrades class? Googlemeister (talk) 18:19, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I think quite a lot of politicians are worthless, but maybe that's not what you had in mind. HiLo48 (talk) 02:49, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to guess someone in prison who has been ordered to pay millions of dollars of restitution. (talk) 03:16, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict with 69.171) Read net worth: total assets minus total liabilities. Trovatore is exactly right - it's going to be someone who's "rich", but has massive liabilities. Or maybe someone who had a huge judgement handed against them, one that they'll never realistically pay off (or likely both). Mark Madoff, the late son of Bernard Madoff, apparently owed 22 million USD when he killed himself, but I'm sure there are people with much larger liabilities out there. Buddy431 (talk) 03:21, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Yep, so ignore the thing I said. Is there a list of people by personal debt? :p Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 03:24, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Agreed that a homeless bum who lives in the woods eating grubs and roots, has far more "net worth" than someone who is millions of dollars/Euros/Yen/Pesos/Rubles/Drachma in debt. Edison (talk) 04:42, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm, I have an idea. The OP did say who, and he didn't specify he wanted one person. Isn't the level of debt related to student loans approaching 1 trillion USD in the US? If so, there's your answer, the college student population has the lowest net worth! (minus myself of course) Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 05:01, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Wouldn't the population in the US with the lowest net worth be the population of everyone with a net worth below zero (or including zero)? Nil Einne (talk) 12:59, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm, good point; basically everyone with debt that is greater than their assets. What about in the World? Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 7 Tishrei 5772 19:19, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Presuming we mean an individual, Donald Trump evidently once had a $900 million personal debt (see the article). I'm not sure (and the ref isn't clear to me at least) if this excluded his assests (in other words whether his net worth was -$900 million) and I don't know if we should be looking for something to this level of magnitude or he was a special case. Nil Einne (talk) 12:47, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Its interesting that a lot of people with the lowest net worth will have a much higher standard of living than your penniless bum with zero net worth or even people with a moderate to average positive net worth. -- Q Chris (talk) 13:49, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
It is a common fallacy that debt is necessarily a bad thing. Clever use of debt can be the means of generating more revenue. You have to have considerable resources before you can actually get on the level of taking on hundreds of millions of dollars worth of debt. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:53, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Reminds me of an old saying: "Owe the bank a thousand dollars, and you will be in trouble if you default ... owe the bank a million dollars, and the bank will be in trouble if you default." The amounts may need to be updated, but the concept is the same. Blueboar (talk) 14:02, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I might just note that having large personal debts does not necessarily mean one is so hopeless. In the US, most debts can be resolved by declaring bankruptcy. A more refined approach would look at debts that cannot be written off in that way — like student loans, for example, which are magically exempt from this requirement. --Mr.98 (talk) 14:51, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Having a low net worth isn't that bad because you can always play country music backwards and get back your wife and your dog and your pickup truck. Bus stop (talk) 15:09, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
It would be someone with the greatest criminal and civil liability not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Perhaps Bernard Madoff. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:36, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Just because a debt can be discharged in bankruptcy doesn't mean that it doesn't count against your net worth. And having large negative net worth doesn't mean that you're insolvent or that you're even considering bankruptcy. --Trovatore (talk) 18:25, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
If Madoff is a valuable answer for the USA, maybe Jérôme Kerviel is for the world ($6.7 billon dollars) Pleclown (talk) 15:03, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

The United States national debt is 15,000,000,000,00 which, divided by 300,000,000 citizens gives you a debt of $50,000n per U.S citizen. Next? μηδείς (talk) 00:54, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Japan: $67,000. Singapore: $65,000. Greece: $42,000. Belgium: $38,000. Italy: $34,000. Canada: $32,000. Germany: $30,000. United States: $29,000. The United States only has the largest public debt if you measure it in absolute dollars. If you measure it as a fraction of economy size, it's below the world average, and far below the average for industrialized countries. --Carnildo (talk) 01:28, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Suitable References for a page documenting a sculptor[edit]

Hi there, I'm currently creating and, whilst the subject is an influential artist in the field I'm having trouble supplying Reliable Sources - in that the artist appears to be quite reclusive and does not give many interviews. I'd appreciate any suggestions re what refs may be acceptable. Michael.j.lacey (talk) 09:24, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Exhibition reviews in legitimate publications (newspapers, art magazines, art history journals, etc, or their websites); features or interviews in similar publications (interviews with other artists may be used to justify judgments of the artist's work); exhibition catalogues; articles in academic journals; small amounts of uncontroversial information may also be taken from the websites of the artist or their dealers, or even from Facebook etc, provided there are also other reliable sources cited. --Colapeninsula (talk) 10:54, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Average processing fee for credit cards?[edit]

In light of Bank Of America's enactment of a monthly fee on debit cards, it is widely reported that the average debit card transaction costs the retailer 44 cents. How much does the average credit card transaction cost? Thanks. (talk) 13:14, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

It depends greatly on the merchant system. There is usually a fixed fee per transaction (around 25 cents). Then, there is a percentage of the transaction on top of that (anywhere from 0.5% to 5% - and it can be different for AmEx or Discover). To make it more complicated, those who don't run a lot of transactions are often charged a minimum monthly fee while those who do a lot of transactions are often given a discount. Therefore, it is very difficult to calculate the average. -- kainaw 13:27, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Is that right? I heard that in the UK there is not a fixed transaction fee for debit cards (unlike credit cards), which is why they are suitable for small transactions. Many shops you won't be able to use a credit card for purchases of under £1, and often under £5 - and I think the cards themselves have a minimum limit of 50p, whereas debit cards are allowed. -- Q Chris (talk) 14:40, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
The laws in the UK may be vastly different than those of the US. The OP used the word "cents" which would suggest that they are from a country that uses cents and not pence. Normally, when unspecified, the OPs are from the US. Therefore kainaw's answer is likely accurate for the OP since he talks about US law. And for the sake of completeness, the OP's IP geolocates to New York. Dismas|(talk) 14:54, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
See also Interchange fee. --LarryMac | Talk 14:57, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Interchange fee is what you want to see, but I just want to say that the processing fee (not subsidized in any way) for debit cards is $0.00825 in Canada, the total transaction fee takes into account more such as having to own the processing machine and the profit cut the processor demands, and is closer to $0.50. [1] Public awareness (talk) 20:27, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Is this how disparity in income should be viewed?[edit]

I have an income at the poverty level of $10,980 per year while the average income is $49,500 per year. I pay 10% of my income to ride the bus every day while someone with average income pays the same. The percent of the average income is 2.2%. in terms of disparity the same purchases are 4.54 times more difficult for me. --DeeperQA (talk) 14:36, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

You may find the article Economic inequality to be interesting. One thing I must note, is that it isn't as simple as comparing relative amounts, percents, or fractions of income with regard to quantifying something like "difficulty" with regards to monetary outlay. Someone who has an income of, say, $1,000,000 per year can lose 10% of their income without a significant change in lifestyle, and more importantly, without significant effect on their well-being. Someone who has an income of $10,000 per year who loses 10% of their income is in serious real danger. People often look at raw percents as a measure of fairness; i.e. people who propose a straight flat tax of some arbitrary percent, as a way of being purely fair (i.e. everyone gives the same fraction of their income); which ignores the fact that the same fraction of income applied to different amounts of income has different effects (a relatively small percentage loss of income to someone at the poverty limit can be devastating, while a larger percentage from someone who is so wealthy they could live comfortably without any further income for the rest of their lives would have less impact on their survival ability). --Jayron32 15:09, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
This is essentially the concept of marginal utility. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:24, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Flat taxes are highly regressive because of this. This is similar to lendors using flat fees to get around usury laws. Public awareness (talk) 21:44, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Labourism, a predominantly 20th century phenomena, viewed income disparity as a failure of workers to access a normatively established bundle of goods—for example primary school education, milk for children, health care for birthing mothers, piped water, sanitary sewer systems, buildings with certain volumes. This was also tied to a growing consumer economy, and imperialist access to social profits. This is a very different view to the marginalist view. Marxist and anarchist views throughout the 20th century viewed income disparity as a tactical accommodation in what amounted to Gramsci's war of position; for a highly developed Marxist theory of income tactics in capitalism, see Trotsky's conception of the transitional demand: basically demanding unachievable incomes as a stepping stone to demanding control of production. In practice, many labourite trade unions effectively followed Trotsky's position, but retreated to incomes that capitalists were willing to award—this meant that in Fordism which we've talked about above, actual incomes depended on the strategic position of workers in capitalist production (Automotive workers often got much more than female office typists), the union power of the workers bargaining, and the political "militance" or willingness to fight of unionists. For the labourite position, insufficient income is a moral outrage. Social Catholicism seems to share a lot with the labourite position, and liberation theology seems like the normative moral position of Catholicism taken to the final conclusion. To the revolutionary position, insufficient income is a constant of capitalism. Other major 20th century alternate views of income on the left include the cooperative movement's attempts to supplement incomes outside of the market (quite often by increasing the _quality_ of goods consumed at the same price, so bread that's actually worth eating, for example); or the working classes' development of black, grey or non-market incomes, such as growing your own vegetables or part time prostitution. Access to cooperatives or grey/black/non-market income supplements varies with political climate. The expected bundle of consumer goods that income represents has changed so dramatically over the 20th century that some goods, such as not dying from throwing your festering sewage into the street (ie: paying for the saniman to take your shit away), aren't even considered by many Western workers—this makes talking about income even more difficult. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:08, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Wiki editors rescinding copyright license grant[edit]

The Italian Wikipedia blanking has reminded me of something I've wondered about for a long time. The text below the box into which I am typing this says, "By clicking the 'Save Page' button, you agree to the Terms of Use, and you irrevocably agree to release your contribution under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 License and the GFDL." However, the Wikimedia Foundation gives me nothing of value in return for this "irrevocable" license grant, so there is no consideration of a contract, so in most cases such an agreement would not be binding. Is there any legal reason that I or anyone else can not rescind such a grant? Is there any case law on this point? (talk) 15:22, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

The only circumstances in which it's non-binding, that I'm aware of, is if the contributor is a minor. Please don't tell the children :-) --Demiurge1000 (talk) 15:28, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
The foundation gives you the use of its facilities into which you place your contribution - the server and the mediawiki softwware user interface. Arguably these are consideration, though IINAL etc. You also consent to the agreement by pressing the save page button, so it might be a little difficult to rescind it. INteresting question, nevertheless. --Tagishsimon (talk) 15:38, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
That is offered to contributors and non-contributors alike, so it can not be construed as consideration. (talk) 17:42, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Editing facilities are used only by contributors. Shades of the hotelier's wife argument in your's not what is offered, it is what is taken. --Tagishsimon (talk) 19:18, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I utterly lack the legal knowledge to contribute meaningfully, but might the answer be found in the case law on EULAs and Terms of service? Because that seems more pertinent to the contract question than the fact that what you are releasing are copyright rights. --Mr.98 (talk) 16:18, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
You are assuming it is a contract. It is not. You are agreeing to grant a license with certain terms, not agreeing to a contract. The word agree is not synonymous with contract. Here, it means "I consent." EULAs don't apply. The EULA is a contract law answer to copyright. The EULA does not fall under copyright law but provides the same function by operation of contract law. The license agreement uses copyright law rather than avoids it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Contract law normally would apply to uncompensated license grants but in the U.S., Congress has specified other terms in statute: "In the US, termination of copyright licenses is governed by Section 203 of the Copyright Code, which allows for termination 35 to 40 years after a license is granted. In Rano v. Sipa Press the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that because of section 203, nonexclusive copyright licenses of unspecified duration cannot be terminated before this 35 year date.... However, other courts have vehemently disagreed with Rano v. Sipa [so] copyright licenses with unspecified durations may or may not be terminable at will."[2] So the answer in this case is, yes, everyone can rescind the grant of their license, 35 to 40 years after they press "save page" when no consideration has changed hands. (talk) 17:40, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
That is quite interesting and is probably the most correct answer here. --Mr.98 (talk) 19:15, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia commenced operations in 2002 or so, right? We can start worrying about it in 2035, maybe 2030. My hunch is there's not going to be any practical way that this is going to matter, except maybe helping a few lawyers cover some billable hours. --Trovatore (talk) 20:51, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
You aren't entering into a contract with anyone. You are licensing the stuff you type. Consideration isn't a factor. Anyway, this question is close enough to a legal advice question that you should just address it to the Wikimedia Foundation, which has actual lawyers who know all about this. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:47, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually it's exactly a contract. What other kind of one person "agreement" do you envision? The author gives a nonexclusive license, subject to all the GPL etc terms, to reuse the work. The OP has actually a very interesting point about § 203... it's something I've thought about myself somewhat... I don't have a good answer. This is something that's the ample subject of a law review article. I think it's actually been done, but I don't have the resources to find that source right now. You should look for it though.
I'm a little disappointed here about all the wildly wrong answers given here in the upmost of confident tones. Shadowjams (talk) 10:13, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Oh yeah, there's plenty of consideration. See consideration for more about that. Shadowjams (talk) 10:15, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I struck my inaccurate stuff above; I was in haste; my apologies. I will strive to provide references in the future, which we are all supposed to be doing anyway, not only because this is a reference desk and references help the querents research their topic further; but because finding references reduces mistaken answers and hasty answers in the first place. Comet Tuttle (talk) 16:12, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Bonds and rates[edit]

Hi everyone,

I have a question on government bonds and interest rates: essentially, I want to understand how the two are tied together. For example, on the one hand the bank of england is maintaining a low interest rate of 0.5%, and on the other hand you have government bonds of all different maturities, prices and yields. I guess in some sense the yield is effectively the interest rate you get for putting your money in the government bond, so then in effect these yields are the interest rates the government has to pay to borrow money, right? So then what does the rate of 0.5% refer to, is it just some 'recommended rate' at which banks are expected to lend within the UK? Because obviously there's also Euribor and LIBOR, so what's the point of the 'low rate' maintained by the BoE (or equivalently the fed) to encourage borrowing? Is this something like the rate at which the central bank lends out money to other banks? I gather that a rise in the 'interest rate' will make the yields on bonds less attractive (e.g. if 10Y yields were 2% and then the interest rate shot up to 5%, the price of the bond should drop correspondingly). Could anyone explain how interest rates and bond rates are related to me or give me some general context on how this all works? (I use England as an example but obviously it could equivalently be the Fed or elsewhere.)

Thanks a lot! (talk) 17:08, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Most of what you wrote is correct. The current yield is the interest rate that you get for putting your money in the bond, yes; but more relevant is the yield to maturity, which also counts the fact that when the bond matures in 30 years (or 10 years, or 6 months, or whatever) then the government pays the bond owner the amount that was originally put in. I recommend The Bond Book by Annette Thau for a very readable and thorough treatment of bonds for the layman. (It was written before the current financial disaster, so a lot of the material about GNMA bonds and the like is a little dated.) Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:43, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll be sure to track the book down! So the rate quoted in (say) the FT is the current yield, rather than the YTM? And do all the movements of these rates tend to track one another? e.g., if the BoE puts the rate up from 0.5% to 1%, would you expect a) the yield on government bonds to go up? b) the interest rate of something like a retail bank account (despite the fact these are obviously set by the banks themselves) to go up? Because if the yield to maturity discounts the final sum of money paid back (the bond value) at the interest rate set by the government, then that yield is only accurate in theory if the investor was otherwise able to keep their money and receive that amount of interest, right? By which I mean, if you discount the final payout of e.g. £100 by a factor of 1/1+r for say a 1Y bond, then that assumes you could have otherwise basically invested your £100 risk-free for a year to receive £100(1+r) back at the end. However, is that 'r' going to be 0.5% when the yield to maturity is calculated? Because from the sound of the comment below, that r is only the interest rate a bank would pay to borrow from the central bank and would have nothing to do with e.g. an individual investor. Hope that makes sense! Thanks :) (talk) 23:36, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

The 0.5% value is the rate that the BoE charges to some banks when it lends them money. The bond rates are the rates that you get when you lend money to the English government. Looie496 (talk) 21:08, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Of course, there is no English government since England doesn't have its own government. The Bank of England, despite its name, sets interbank lending rates for the entire United Kingdom, whose British government is the main issuer of government bonds in England and other parts of the United Kingdom. Marco polo (talk) 17:45, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Police vehicle pursuits[edit]

Where in the world do police vehicle pursuits occur most often. What state in the US do vehicle pursuits occur most often and where in Ireland are police vehicle pursuits most common. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:11, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

They seem pretty common in California. I suspect that it is the state that has the most car chases, but could not tell you which county in Ireland would. Googlemeister (talk) 18:15, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Statistics agencies seem to only keep records of crimes (I don't think being chased is yet a crime?) so having this info available would depend on all the police forces making the stats available. For Ireland, the Garda has research unit that you could email and ask. (talk) 22:48, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Being chased is a crime in a way. It's usually called "resisting arrest" and that is a crime in every US jurisdiction that I know of. You could find stats for that maybe but I doubt very many departments break it down for statistical purposes between simply running from the cops and getting caught up in a car chase. Dismas|(talk) 23:00, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Being chased is definitely crime, Resisting arrest. Statistics are definitely kept on car chase in the developed world. I to imagine California has the most car chases. It is the most populous state and it contains LA which is a highly populated metro area where there is little public transportation and most people (including those who the police like to stop) drive cars. LA was known for its televised car chases (from news helicopters) particularly in the late 90s and early 2000s. I have no idea about Ireland, but high population and vehicle ownership are the key factors. The other factor is police procedure. Car chases are very dangerous not only for those involved but also other road users. Situations where innocent people are killed as a result of car chases, especially when the suspect was not dangerous, have led to changes in procedure where not everyone who runs is chased. These procedures very from place to place and I don't have any details. --Daniel 23:08, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
This doesn't answer the original poster's question, but because California is being discussed in the above two paragraphs, I have to write to contradict them. In California, being chased by a police car and not stopping is not resisting arrest. All it is is "failure to yield", which is a mere traffic violation. The word seemed to have spread after the OJ Simpson "slow speed pursuit" because when chases became entertainment on the live news shows, one would see the aerial shot of the police car or two with lights and sirens on, following a car which was carefully stopping completely at every stop sign and travelling at just below the speed limit, because the driver knew that his only crime so far was a failure to yield, and he didn't want to pile on any more offenses like not stopping at a red light. Comet Tuttle (talk) 03:53, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
It's actually usually called eluding an officer or something similar. Resisting arrest has a very different set of elements, in many cases. But yes, running from the law is pretty universally a crime, whether on foot, or in a car, or over a series of decades. As per which state is the worst... who knows... California, namely Los Angeles seems to have an inordinate amount of these but maybe that's cause the LAPD loves its helicopters, or maybe the LA News media is sensationalized (imagine) or maybe it's because LA has a unique culture of... whatever. Who knows. Depending on how you cook the statistics I'm sure one could find any state with a lot of driving pursuits. Shadowjams (talk) 10:05, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

NFL numbers with "O"[edit]

Looking at the Chief's roster, I noticed that some numbers have the letter O following them. It could be a database or programming error. If not, is there some significance of the O after the number? -- kainaw 19:03, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

It may be either a) a glitch or b) signify that the player is "Out". The NFL uses a standard code on official injury reports: P= Probable, Q= Questionable, D= Doubtful, O= Out (see this page for the usage). Perhaps the roster is tagging those players which have an injury status of "out". --Jayron32 19:21, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Maybe, but it also has some people on the practice squad listed that way as well, and it seems unlikely that every single other player on the active roster is fully healthy... They also forgot to give Steve Maneri his number 68. Googlemeister (talk) 19:31, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
During the preseason, teams often give the same number out for two players (especially linemen). So 71o means that he's the offensive player 71, whereas 71d would mean defensive. See these preseason rosters They must've forgot to take out the 'o' after the other 71 was cut or assigned a new number. Hot Stop talk-contribs 19:53, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

changeover to non-profit[edit]

Is changeover of public utilities to non-profit corporations the best or easiest way to prevent the Occupy Wall Street movement from turning violent? --DeeperQA (talk) 20:21, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

"Best" is a matter of opinion. Easiest is also based on your point of view. If you simply want to stop a group from turning violent, nerve gas is a very very easy method to ensure they don't do anything violent. It isn't an ethical way to do it, but it is easy. -- kainaw 20:24, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Where will all the money to buy the stock from the shareholders come from, so the shares can be turned over to the non-profit? Jc3s5h (talk) 20:29, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Investors are perfectly entitled and invited to retain their stock since some feel that the failure to disclose amount of markup to a buyer is the equivalent of retail theft. --DeeperQA (talk) 21:24, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Also note that the "movement" doesn't have any clear agenda and doesn't have any form of exit strategy. It is absorbing media attention while it can. When the media attention dies out, there will be nothing much left to do. If an agenda does appear at some point in time, then an exit strategy of ending the movement when the action items are met can be produced. With an exit strategy, the movement can truly end. -- kainaw 20:34, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
No. The banks are seen as central villains by this movement, not the electric companies. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:35, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Telecommunications have been deregulated in Florida by a Republican Governor and Republican controlled legislature. What will most likely follow is the same heuristic greed as banks only using public necessities like banks use debit cards and cash. --DeeperQA (talk) 21:33, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
It is a cycle. Privately held services are considered greedy bastards and the service is taken over by the government. Then, government run services waste resources and provide terrible service. To get good service, the service is deregulated. Then, the privately held services are considered greedy bastards and the service is taken over by the government. Then, government run services waste resources and provide terrible services. To get good service, the service is deregulated... -- kainaw 23:45, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't even understand how that makes sense to consumers. A private corporation with no competition may trim allegedly wasteful spending, but there would be no incentive to pass that along to the customers. They'd trim it specifically to give it to the share-holders. APL (talk) 09:55, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Duh! Your mistake is assuming that humans operate on intelligence. Even hedgehogs are smart enough to know that most of what humans do is purely idiotic: Government is pocketing our tax money with utilities. Make it private. The company is pocketing our tax money with utilities. Make it government. Then there are many other common ones: I am tired of paying taxes for poor schools. Make a lottery. Now I'm paying three times as much on losing lottery tickets and the schools still suck. There are ones that can even trick the hedgehogs if they aren't paying attention: Let's cut property tax and replace it with increased sales tax. The poor people who don't own property rejoice at the idea of cutting taxes! Idiots. -- kainaw 13:05, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Completely irrelevant to your original question. If the primary concern of the movement is banks then there no reason to think changing public utilities to non-profits is going to make a big difference to the movement, in particular stop them turning violent, regardless of what happened in Florida and what may happen there in the (likely fairly distant in comparison) future. If you are here to continue to rant about what's happening in Florida please do it elsewhere. Nil Einne (talk) 06:30, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Is it really a movement if it goes nowhere? Googlemeister (talk) 20:36, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Brownian -- Obsidin Soul 20:46, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Some people think it's not necessarily going nowhere. Comet Tuttle (talk) 20:45, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
The discourse of protest as "violence" has a long and disreputable history, based on the constructions of working class behaviour as inherently violent. E.P. Thompson's observations on the radical nature of the London Mob in the Making of the English Working Class, the construction of "physical force Chartism" as violence, and (for anyone who's protested in their life), the nature of policing of protests where the State clearly instigates violence in unprovoked manners ought to put the lie to "violent protest" (See the Ombudsman's report into police violence at the Melbourne World Economic Forum protests, policing on the Third Day morning for one of my own experiences, from an eye witness perspective we were beaten from above while complying with police instruction within the time limits they set). Getting caught up in a media discourse on "violence" is stupid politics. A variety of publications on direct action, the inheritor of the "physical force" perspective, give decent instructions on how to democratically control tactics. As far as violence as strategy, see Foco, Symbionese Liberation Army, and Red Army Faction for concrete reasons why violence isn't strategy, for the theoretical perspective on why violence is stupid strategy see the famous Australian pamphlet You can't blow up a social relationship which is a succinct account. Fifelfoo (talk) 00:31, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
The occupy Wall Street movement is a pretty long-lasting protest, but I'd be really astonished if the government could socialize a utility before it eventually disbands. It's just barely more plausible that the utility company could buy itself out and become non-profit in that same time period. Even if by some miracle that did happen, the Occupy Wall Street crowd would probably (correctly) see it as a distraction from their main goal. APL (talk) 09:55, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

"They're all so smart these days"[edit]

I've noticed that old people who see their descendants often say that the children and young people are "very bright/smart/clever, but then they all are, these days, aren't they?". Do we have records of this being something that old people have always said, or is it something we only know happens now?

I mean this in the way that we have centuries of old people saying that young people are less disciplined, or less well-behaved, or that colours are less bright and tastes less powerful. Do we have such cases of old people down the centuries saying that all young people are clever these days? (talk) 22:14, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't have any specific examples of what you are asking for, but I do have a thought. Technology is creating rapidly changing lifestyles. Young people are very good at adapting to change. Older people are less skilled at adapting and the very old find it nearly impossible, my 93 year old grandma (while perfectly intelligent) really cannot be taught to use a computer and struggles to even conceptualize the internet. To the elderly, a young person picking up an iPhone and intuitively knowing how to use this strange device is an impressive feat. In the past change was slower. I imagine in hunter gatherer cultures were their is virtually no change from generation to generation this idea of the new generation being brilliant doesn't come up very often. --Daniel 22:58, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm in my sixties. I teach Information Technology to high school kids. They're nowhere near as smart as they think they are. HiLo48 (talk) 23:41, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Then someone is not doing a very good job. :D Public awareness (talk) 00:48, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Daniel, though there is a bit more to it. Average intelligence has actually noticeably risen over the last century, many believe this is due to better diets especially during childhood and due to increased access to education materials. See Flynn effect. Public awareness (talk) 00:48, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps the first well known "young clever clogs" to be significantly influential was Alcibiades. He had the advantage of both aristocratic background and of being adopted by the mighty statesman Pericles, as well as being both a student and a romantic interest of Socrates (who also supposedly saved his life in battle). By his late 20's he was working aggressively to overturn agreements made with the Spartans, reportedly because he was "offended that the Spartans had negotiated that treaty through Nicias and Laches, overlooking him on account of his youth", according to our article. Nicias would've been in his late 40's at the time, and Alcibiades was able to out-manoeuvre and embarrass him in the Athenian Assembly - certainly a clear indication that the democracy did not defer to more experienced politicians if a bright spark was mouthy enough. (And Alcibiades had a reputation for being unruly).

Established Athenian society certainly did chatter disapprovingly about the youthful cleverness of Alcibiades and men like him, in fact one element of the charges against Socrates was "corrupting the young", a phrase undoubtedly chosen with Alcibiades in mind. The important aspects here were not so much technology (hoplite weaponry and triremes were not much different in 421 B.C. to sixty years earlier, although tactics had developed), but philosophical and rhetorical finesse and astute handling of politics in an age where strategic and diplomatic relations were becoming increasingly complex. Alcibiades was later able to manipulate the Spartans too, and then the Persians, and then get himself reinstated as an Athenian general even after having previously defected to the Spartans, before he finally got too old to keep up with his own webs of intrigue, and was assassinated in his mid-forties. --Demiurge1000 (talk) 06:11, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

I think the OP meant in general, not certain cases, "old people...saying that all young people are clever these days" Public awareness (talk) 09:04, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
From my own observations, the current generation is full of moronic, sex-crazed bespoiled people with neither morals nor manners, who constantly swear and dress like slobs. You'd be hard-pressed to find the select few do not have those qualities. It is a generation I am sure nobody would envy living in. →Στc. 06:33, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I hope you are only saying that mockingly, I mean that's what the voters for Joseph McCarthy sounded like. Elvis shaking his hips, girls wearing pants, children using the word "damn", boys not tucking in their shirts!
Incase you believed your own words, were the previous generations better? Nuclear weapons, Slavery, Religion, War, Climate Change, Pollution, Colonialism, Genocide, Chastity belt, KKK. Public awareness (talk) 09:04, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Of course there are spoiled, sex-crazed, cursing, poorly dressed, and ill-mannered morons in my generation, just as there are in your generation (I can say that confidently without a clue about how old you are), but I have to say that it has not been particularly challenging for me to find very kind, responsible people to hang out with. Now as for envy, we are coming into adulthood into a broken society with massive debt and monstrous degradation of the environment (largely not our fault... Well, we haven't had much time to exacerbate the issue yet anyway), coupled with the tremendous stress that comes from living in such a rapidly changing world. You probably have a point there; I can't imagine many would envy living in our generation. Falconusp t c 10:14, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Not sure why you included "Chastity belt" in there, since historically this seems to have been used mainly by a quite small number of wealthy Renaissance (not medieval) merchants to enforce fidelity on their often much-younger wives. It really was not a major social problem at any period of history... AnonMoos (talk) 10:31, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Unless you were a much younger wife? NB, the legal age of marriage was 12 for girls in European middle ages and renaissance. Itsmejudith (talk) 12:46, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
It was major if it happened to you -- but it only happened to a very tiny minority of the population... AnonMoos (talk) 13:05, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Like dowry bride burnings today, which is seen as a social problem. Arguably it is the same social problem. Itsmejudith (talk) 19:25, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't want to diminish the seriousness of it, but wearing a Renaissance chastity belt did not leave a wife incapacitated for her ordinary duties, and to judge from contemporary caricatures they were often singularly ineffective in their main intended purpose (if the wife had a little gumption and resourcefulness). I was not questioning whether they would be unpleasant to wear (though usually not actively harmful), I was questioning why something that only affected a minuscule percentage of the population was grouped together with "Genocide", "Slavery", and "KKK"... AnonMoos (talk) 23:28, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I was just painting a picture, not the particulars, but what they stand for, chastity belt (can also stop masturbation) was to show sexual repression, the opposite of "sex-crazed". Public awareness (talk) 02:37, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
The majority of Victorian anti-masturbation devices could not be worn under ordinary clothes, and were more aids to help prevent youth from succumbing to nightly temptations and/or involuntary "nocturnal emissions", rather than being chastity belts as we would think of them. I'm sure that in some cases chastity belts have been used to inflict mental cruelty and/or somewhat low-level but chronic physical discomfort, but historically they were a very minor phenomenon, and so looked out of place in your list of major problems... AnonMoos (talk) 05:46, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

I disagree with the premise of the question. Most older people seem to complain that the younger generation is not as good as their own. A few historical examples: Socrates allegedly said that "“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”. The 17th century Japanese Bushido handbook, Hagakure includes a lengthy diatribe on how young men were becoming more effeminate, lazy and disrespectful. Orlando Gibbons wrote (also in the 17th century) "Farewell, all joys! O Death, come close mine eyes! More Geese than Swans now live, more Fools than Wise." In the UK today, there is a widespread belief that improving exam results only prove that the exams are getting easier[3][4]. Alansplodge (talk) 12:27, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

As Daniel has pointed out, technology change is the most significant factor. If you think the younger generation is dumb it may be because they don't know how to do math with a pencil and paper or "in their head". If you think the younger generation is smart it is because they are whizz kids with computers. Yada yada. Interestingly, it is grandparents that may have given a boost to human development. As this article points out, grandparents only became common around 30,000 years ago. "This surge in the number of seniors may have been a driving force for the explosion of new tool types and art forms that occurred in Europe at around the same time."[5] Bus stop (talk) 03:02, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Ya, I can't do math in my head to save my life. :( My gf only got herself doing it again through very hard work. Yes, Prof. Allison Brooks talked about the importance of grandmothers on early human development (by which I mean; when kids are young, not early hominins) and that being a reason for women living long past the point at which they can reproduce. Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 9 Tishrei 5772 05:59, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm, I'm 21 (22 next month!), and even I know that my generation is filled with people who are none too bright and nihilistic (case in point, my little sister). I think that things like Facebook and Twitter (where people can share the most boring details of their humdrum lives) are to blame. Out of curiosity, when did like start being used as frequently as it is today? (Annoying fun-fact: Israeli kids use the Hebrew word for like as much as American kids do and in the same context; though the maturity imparted to them by military service usually fixes that). Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie | Say Shalom! 9 Tishrei 5772 05:55, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

So, from this it sounds like my suspicions were right: while complaints from old people that young people in general are more decadent/corrupt/uneducated/undisciplined/disrespectful/lazy/selfish than in the past have been recorded throughout history as generally things that old people say, the phenomenon of old people saying that young people in general are cleverer than in the past is only something recent. Which would be indicative of the change over the last few generations being genuinely different in some way(s) to the change over previous generations.

Hmmm, I'd hoped for some sobering historical perspective: this has been less reassuring than I'd hoped. Thanks to those who answered the question asked. (talk) 14:10, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't know if the current generation is smarter--although the Flynn effect would seem to suggest that it is--but today's children have definitely been brought up in a more compassionate world. Note that the accusations of "moronic, sex-crazed bespoiled people with neither morals nor manners, who constantly swear and dress like slobs" as well as "none too bright and nihilistic", even if they were true, are very minor accusations compared to the adjectives this generation can justifiably use to describe older generations. Examples: racist, sexist, xenophobic, war-hawks, cruel, inhumane, uncompassionate, greedy, myopic (for ruining the environment), prudish, self-righteous, arrogant. -- (talk) 18:33, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, there you go. While previous generations fought wars for independence, to end slavery, to defeat the Racist Nazis and the Japanese Empire, freed Eastern Europe from the Soviet Union, ended legal discrimination against blacks, women and homosexuals, this generation is free to stand on its own total lack of accomplishment and libel the accomplishments of those coming before it. See useful idiot. μηδείς (talk) 18:39, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Previous generations may have fought wars of independence, but Arab Spring youth fought several wars of independence (albeit independence from dictators, not other countries) in the span of half a year. Previous generations may have ended slavery, defeated the Nazis, the Japanese, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union, but they also created and/or supported slavery, Nazis, the Japanese Empire, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union in the first place. I'm surprised that you even brought up discrimination, because today's youth are much less discriminatory than even a generation ago, ESPECIALLY against homosexuals. See Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States#Generational_differences. -- (talk) 22:18, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
140, I don't know either, and I doubt we can measure it in a reliable way to give a satisfying answer. But it does seem to be true that something is different between the generations, in a different way to the usual generation gap throughout human history. The pejoratives used against young people today are the same pejoratives used against their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents, ad infinitum, so is either a constant trend (unlikely) or just old people being scared grouches: the praise is not, and so seem to reflect an actual difference. What that difference is, I wouldn't venture to guess. (talk) 19:56, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah, yes, Well, unfortunately it was the conservative Rehnquist court of 2003, composed entirely of geezers all born before 1945, which voted 6-3 in Lawrence v. Texas to overthrow sodomy laws as such, even after that progressive Clinton's support for DADT. Them damn Republican bigots of the older generation! How unfortunate that when I came out at 16 in the early Eighties that my conservative strictly church-going Catholic family didn't disown me. Or you might have a case. Let us all grovel at the feet of the tweens of today and their accomplishment of not having been brought up by people who were brought up by people who were brought up by bigots. But don't let me challenge the narrativeμηδείς (talk) 04:55, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
It's clear that you're trying to discredit what you perceive to be my viewpoints by taking random guesses at my age, political views, religious views, and nationality. I responded to the OP's comment that the current generation might be different by offering one way they are different: they've been brought up in a more compassionate world, and are much less likely to be bigoted. Your comments have been completely irrelevant to either my point or the OP's questions. -- (talk) 00:33, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Recommendations solicited[edit]

I'm looking for articles or books about the question of how life emerged from inert matter. Clarityfiend (talk) 22:26, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Abiogenesis is what you are searching for. Ask in the Science RD things like this next time. Quest09 (talk) 22:44, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm more concerned about the philosophical rather than scientific aspects. Thanks for your answer, but next time, leave your patronizing attitude at the door. Clarityfiend (talk) 23:32, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Abiogenesis has references to other articles and a lengthy further reading section. Talk Origins also has some relevant material; though their bibliography is rather short. --Colapeninsula (talk) 22:46, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Clarityfiend - your question read entirely as a scientific one to me. I don't how you can think a normal reader could get anything else out of it. There was nothing patronising in Quest09's reply. I think an apology is due. HiLo48 (talk) 23:38, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Obviously, I agree with HiLo48. @Clarityfiend: Complain in some talk page about things like this next time. Quest09 (talk) 00:51, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I guess an apology is in order. Mea culpa. However, I'm not exactly a newbie here. That should have indicated the query wasn't misplaced. Clarityfiend (talk) 03:19, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
What level of philosophical aspects? Carl Sagan or deeper? --Mr.98 (talk) 01:34, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
A lot of "pure" scientists were jealous of Sagan because he was better at explaining things than they were. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 10:57, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not dogging Sagan. It's a question of whether he wants philosophy with a lower-case or capital P, really. The academic discipline of Philosophy is a very different beast that Carl Sagan's approach to philosophy. I prefer Sagan, personally. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:22, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Jolly good. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 17:56, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not really sure, but probably Sagan-ish. It's for my dad. Clarityfiend (talk) 03:19, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Maybe The Mind of God by Paul Davies?? I think if abiogenesis isn't what you are after, the only remaining questions would concern self-awareness, which is a whole other topic. It's been emotional (talk) 03:37, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't see how this question may have a "philosophical" approach. You possibly want a popular science approach (like Carl Sagan, which is simplified but of quality). Or maybe you just want some philosophical approach to consciousness, but the process itself is a science topic. Wikiweek (talk) 13:11, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

You may be surprised, but there is a huge amount of seemingly science topics done in the humanities — philosophy of biology being perhaps the most relevant here. Much of it is decidedly non-popular. See also evolutionary ethics, science and technology studies and on and on and on. There are plenty of "big questions" to go around. Many folks who you probably categorize as in the "scientist" category on issues like this (like Daniel Dennett) are often self-categorized as philosophers. --Mr.98 (talk) 13:22, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
I think the original question is a bit misleading. Just because something is not alive does not mean it is inert. The sun is very much not alive in any conventional sense, but it is certainly not inert, either. For a scientific perspective on a popular science level, I found the first few chapters of Nick Lane's Life ascending to be a very interesting and very plausible view on the beginning of life. --Stephan Schulz (talk) 18:22, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
Per Mr. 98 — it's not an amazingly common discipline, but here at Indiana University Bloomington we have an entire Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, and they're definitely on the humanities side. Nyttend (talk) 05:20, 8 October 2011 (UTC)